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SUGGESTIONS TO TEACHERS
I. Where the Poem is prescribed for Reading.
It is best to begin by reading the books rapidly through in the class-room, without stopping for anything but explanation of obvious difficulties. In such a rapid reading the student will get a general idea of what the poem is about. This reading aloud will also be necessary to give familiarity with the metre and with the proper names. It will not be necessary that the rules of the metrical scheme (pp. lii.-lvii.) be learned by heart, but the examples should be looked up, so that the student may be familiar with the common forms of the verse. Any line that causes difficulty should be explained so that it may be read smoothly. The object, as far as this part of the study is concerned, is not to learn about the metre, but to be able to read the poem without stumbling. The proper names, too, should be fairly well understood. Never let a mispronunciation pass. The notes at the bottom of the
will give enough idea of the places and persons spoken of.
The next point is that the Action of the books be thoroughly understood. The part of the Introduction (pp. xx.-xxiii.) referring to the subject should be read, and the analyses on pp. 79, 91, may be consulted. The Characters, too, Satan, Beëlzebub, Moloch, Mammon, should be discussed; the Introduction, pp. xxiii.-xxxvi., will give some suggestions. But it is important that the pupil should try to be definite in his ideas, and particularly that he should be able to refer to whatever passages are needed to support his opinions.
If time permit, some passages should be committed to.
memory, and essays may be written.
The passages should, in general, be left to the choice of the student: ask only that he take what seems an especially fine passage and get him to say why it is fine. As to essays, they should be short, so that they may be read and criticised in class. As to subjects, the Examination Questions, 6–8, will show the kind of subject that will be useful, the student being sent to other books so far as they are at hand. Some students may like to write essays commenting in detail on the idea of particular passages, and if the comment be definite the idea is not a bad one.
Not until a good deal of the poem has been read is it worth while to study the Introduction. Then the parts on Milton's Life, and the relation of “Paradise Lost” to his other work may be studied or read in class with any comment or enlargement the teacher may wish to add. The sections on Style and Metre should be constantly referred to as cases come up in the daily reading.
II. Where the Poem is prescribed for Study.
The first thing to be done here, also, is to read the two books through rapidly. Afterward, however, the text must be mastered in a more thorough and complete manner than when the book is for reading only. It is an important thing to know the poem. Allusions and proper names must be more carefully studied.
Milton was a learned poet, and it requires work to know what he was writing about. There is so much else to learn about the text that matters purely linguistic may be largely neglected. It is true that a really good understanding of the text cannot be gained without a fair knowledge of Milton's English. But a knowledge of the English of Milton's day is not a very easy thing to come at. So it will be well to be satisfied with a good knowledge of the meaning of the text, a study of obscure sentences, of parts where the syntax is so unfamiliar as to conceal the sense, and an idea of
some of the particularities of Milton's English, as, for instance, his classicisms, e.g., i. 573, ii. 40.
Then the Metre must be thoroughly studied. The part of the Introduction treating the question should be taken up, a little every day, in connection with the daily reading. Every line especially remarked in the examples or in the notes should be read aloud until its rhythmical structure is clearly understood. Passages should be given out to the student in which all deviations from the normal line should be marked and explained. The student must know the matter theoretically and practically, he must be able to explain the metre of any line, and he must be able to give as much of Milton's system of blank verse as is given in the Introduction.
As in the less detailed study, the Action of the books must be thoroughly understood, as well as their structure. Analyses as on pp. 79, 91, should be made and explained; it is well to put them on the blackboard.
The student should now be somewhat familiar with the poem, and subsequent study may make use of the material gained as a help to right appreciation. A few words on p. 101 will give some idea of the relation that the knowledge gained may have to a really fine feeling for the poem. In no way is the connection better shown than in the comparison of different passages, that any particular line or lines may be seen in true relation and proportion. A simile may seem strange till we find, by looking at others of the same kind, what Milton was trying to effect by it (xlv. xlvii.); a description will be seen more truly if compared with something else (note on ii. 906–910). And even if the direct result be small, the increased familiarity with the poem will be a step toward the increased enjoyment of it. At this time now, as in the more cursory study, the Introduction may be studied, the sections on the Style in particular (pp. xxx.-xl.), with frequent reference to the poem, more especially with a view of discovering and discussing new examples.
It is a very difficult thing to make out good Examination papers on the subject of a poem. This fact has led many persons having to do with education, to hold one of two views: to believe either that poems should not be studied as such, or that no examinations should be given on them. Those who hold the second opinion are at present somewhat in the position of one disapproving of gravitation. Examinations are a fact which we must reckon with. Examination questions on “Paradise Lost” will generally be found to come under one of the following heads: 1 1. On Proper Names. a. What and where was “Sion hill,” i. 10; “Siloa's
brook," i. 11; "the Aonian mount," i. 15 ? b. Who were Moloch, Belial, Dagon, Chemos, i. 381–
505; Mammon, i. 678–684 ? c. Where were Nebo, i. 407; Lebanon, i. 447; Gaza,
i. 466; Damascus, i. 468; Basan, i. 398 ? d. Explain “harpy-footed Furies,” ii. 596; “Me
dusa," ii. 611; “Gorgons, and Hydras, and Chi
mæras dire,” ii. 628. e. Where and what were Olympus, i. 516; Delphi, i.
517; Dodona, i. 518; Lemnos, i. 746 ? 2. On Allusions.
A leper once he lost and gained a king.' (i. 471.) * 1-5 would hardly be expected of those who had merely read the poem in a general way. The number of questions given in any examination would be dependent on various circumstances, partly on the time allowed.
" i. 339.
“Doubled that sin in Bethel, and in Dan.” (i. 485.) b. Explain “Gehenna
type of hell," i. 405; "the Asphaltic pool," i. 411; "the hill of scandal," i. 416; "sojourners in Goshen," i. 309;
Amram's son, c. Who was Uther's son, i. 580 ? the Soldan, i.
764? What is the allusion in “Panim chivalry,”
i. 765; “fell by Fontarabbia,” i. 587 ? d. What was the pygmæan race,
” i. 780 (cf i. 575) ? “The Arimaspian,” ii. 945 ? e. What allusion to his own time may be supposed in
“ Then wander forth the sons of Belial ” (i. 501) ?
“O shame to men ! Devil with devil damned
(ii. 496, 497.)
3. On Passages connected with other parts of the poem.
(i. 73, 74.)
(i. 128, 129.) c. Satan says to Beëlzebub, “Better to reign in Hell than serve in Heaven.”
(i. 203.) What language does he use to his followers ? d. Comment on
“His form had yet not lost All her original brightness.” (i. 591.)